Update: Abuse in Care inquiry releases Interim Report

The Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry is investigating the historical abuse of children, young people and vulnerable adults in State and faith-based care in Aotearoa New Zealand. They are looking into why people were taken into care, what abuse they suffered, and the effects of the abuse on them and their family.

At the end of 2020, the Inquiry released an Interim Report Tāwharautia: Pūrongo o te Wā. Below are some of the key findings outlined in the report.

  • Up to 655,000 children, young people and vulnerable adults were in State and faith-based care during 1950-2019 and up to 250,000 children, young people and vulnerable adults were abused.
  • A wide range of abuse and physical, emotional, psychological, medical, educational, spiritual and cultural neglect has occurred.
  • Common factors in abuse cases include a lack of training and vetting and poor complaints and response processes and at the worst further abuse, harassment or punishment for reporting abuse.
  • Discrimination and racism played a role from authorities and the public in both being taken into care and the treatment received in care.
  • Abuse in care is estimated to cost an individual $857,000 over the course of their lifetime; the cost to society for abuse in care between 1950-2019 is up to $217 billion.
  • Redress processes have not worked for many survivors; instead tending to focus on the financial implications to the State rather than providing wellbeing and compensation to survivors. This has understandably created angst and trauma for some survivors.

Inquiry Chair Coral Shaw said that Tāwharautia: Pūrongo o te Wā is important part of its work to date but is by no means the end of what it will find out.

“We will continue to uncover much more about the nature and extent of abuse in care over the course of this Inquiry which will inform our final recommendations to the Governor-General.”

“We are indebted to the survivors of abuse in care who have come forward to share their experiences – some of whom have now passed on. Without them, there would not be an Interim Report,” Shaw said. You can find the full report on the Abuse in Care website.  

The Inquiry will finish in 2023, culminating in a final report that will contain the Inquiry’s findings and recommendations on how Aotearoa New Zealand should care for children, young people and vulnerable adults in the future.

The Inquiry would still like to hear from survivors or witnesses. You may have suffered abuse yourself or witnessed abuse in the care of others. Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and neglect (including spiritual, medical, educational and cultural). You may also have a family member who is no longer alive who experienced abuse in care – you can share their story with the Inquiry also.

The Royal Commission team have produced a video that answers questions about the Inquiry – watch the video here. You can also find a Q&A prepared by the Royal Commission team on our Eldernet Gazette, which answers some commonly asked questions.

Here’s how you can find out more information about the Inquiry:

Information sourced from the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care.

Photo credit: Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

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